Monday, 25 April 2016

Day 16: Brixham to Seaton

7th April 2016

Once again I was able to take full advantage of my bus pass by catching a bus at 0930 and from the stop outside the B&B in which I'd been staying. It was a very busy double-decker, full of other "twirlies" on Stagecoach service 12 to Torquay and for the first time this trip I noticed a wheelchair-user taking full advantage of the accessibility of the low-floor bus.

Service 12 ran through a much more urban area than I've been seeing for the last few days and the bus remained busy through Paignton and all the way to Torquay.  Stagecoach service 11 on to Teignmouth was also a double-decker and was similarly busy - or at least it seemed so to me after the quieter buses in Cornwall.
Teignmouth Pier. I've become quite a fan of
piers as I've made my way along the coast.

Teignmouth surprised me because as well as being a seaside resort it is obviously still a busy commercial port with exports of china clay and imports of animal feed and other products brought in my small coasters, several of which were tied up on the wharves visible from the river bridge as the bus entered town.  The pier and sea-front were busy with school holiday punters, despite the cold wind and I ended up spending well over an hour in the town, although that was enough.

Good interchange at Starcross station.
 There's a bus stop just outside as well.
I wasn't sure whether the Stagecoach number 2 I caught at 1233 was running 2 minutes late or whether it was, in fact, the 1201 scheduled departure that was 32 minutes behind time. The question was answered when I alighted at Starcross at 1303 to find another service 2 bus following shortly behind.  For nearly ten years I owned a narrowboat by the name of "Starcross" so I was pleased to have an opportunity to get off the bus here and have a look around before continuing my trip on the ferry over to Exmouth.

In fact, I had rather longer than anticipated in the village because very low tides had caused the cancellation of my intended crossing and even on the one I did catch an hour later we bumped along the bottom for a hundred metres or so after leaving the pier, something I was quite used to on a canal boat but have not experienced in tidal waters before!

The Atmospheric Railway remembered.

Starcross was a station on one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's less successful projects. The stretch of railway line through the village formed part of his "atmospheric railway" by which trains were propelled by compressed air carried in a large pipe set between the tracks. The rather obvious flaw in the system was the need for a slot in the top of the pipe so that the piston attached to the underside of the train could move along it. Brunel used a system of leather flaps to create a seal, which worked well until the leather was eaten by rats!  One of the few remaining pumping stations on the system still exists at Starcross, which also has a pub named after the railway - although the pub sign rather misses the point.

Exmouth ferry terminal
By the time I'd found my way into the centre of Exmouth from the rather out-of-the-way ferry terminal I'd missed my planned connection onward to Sidmouth. Plan B was a look around the town's market and a hastily-finished cup of tea when I realised that my next bus was about to depart for Budleigh Salterton on service 359.  I had half-an-hour in the town for a look around but found no sign of the retired colonels that for some reason I've always associated with the place before continuing on to Sidmouth,

I had no time for a look around here - at least not if I was to remain true to the ethos of the trip - as the last bus of the day on the coastal route to Seaton was about to depart. This turned out to be more of a Cornwall-type route with narrow roads and high hedges made worse by a lengthy diversion that involved even narrower roads than usual and several very surprised car drivers. It also included passing through the village of "Beer", and the idea of having a "beer in Beer" was very tempting, although I couldn't really stop.

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